Policy that Strengthens Social Enterprise

REDF works to influence national, state and local policymakers to support and promote the growth of social enterprise. We do this by mobilizing the social enterprise sector to educate and advocate for evidence-based solutions to addressing chronic unemployment among people who have experienced homelessness, incarceration, mental illness and/or substance addictions, and young people who are disconnected from work and school.

REDF’s policy and systems change work is driven by two key objectives:

1. Growing Social Enterprise Businesses: Increasing access to capital and technical assistance for businesses with a mission to employ people facing significant barriers to employment.

2. Promoting Employee Economic Stability: Increasing access to financial stability and sustainability with tools and incentives for adults and transition age youth (18-24) re-entering or entering the world of work who have been homeless, convicted of a crime, and/or struggling with mental health and/or addiction challenges.

REDF’s influence on policy and system change efforts are primary at the county and state level. Click here to learn about REDF's five national policy recommendations and here to access REDF's customizable policy briefs for social enterprise who want to create change at policy level.


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Los Angeles County Small Business, Locally Owned Business and Social Enterprise Certification and Procurement Program (2015-16): Through the fall of 2015 through its passage in July 2016, REDF advocated and mobilized support for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors efforts to amend the Small Business and Locally Owned Business Certification Program to include social enterprises. The new guidelines, issued in October 2016, expand the County’s certification, procurement policies and contract preferences for small business now include provisions for social enterprise businesses. REDF continues to support the Los Angeles County Office of Consumer & Business Affairs with outreach and education as they implement the new guidelines.


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REDF California Policy Recommendations (2018): Public policies should create incentives and invest resources to grow social enterprises to employ tens of thousands of Californians each year. Young people and adults returning home from incarceration, exiting homelessness and foster care, and overcoming other barriers will be able to work and contribute. Benefits accrue to us all from State of California investments in, and incentives for, social enterprises and incentives for social enterprises—an evidence-backed approach that leverages significant private sector capital and resources. Click here, to learn about REDF’s five policy recommendations for the State of California.

Transitional Jobs Support Act (2017): REDF and the Western Center on Law & Poverty co-sponsored and passed AB 415 (Assemblymember David Chiu – D-17 and Assembly member Eloise Gómez Reyes – D-47). AB 415 ensures that CalFresh Employment & Training (CFET) program is working with employment social enterprises to leverage the best economic outcome for program participants. Many Californians struggle with unemployment, underemployment, and low wages, and as result experience hunger. Without the support from social public safety programs, such as CFET, to improve their skills, these Californians will linger in poverty regardless of how hard they work. A direct collaboration between CFET and employment social enterprises is helpful to working individuals and families who are still poor and could benefit from the extra support of the programs, resulting in holistic job readiness. For more information about this bill, click here.

California Procurement and Contract Act (2016): REDF sponsored SB 1219 Employment Social Enterprise (Senator Loni Hancock –D-09) which would have granted an employment social enterprise the preference and status to secure state business and procurement contracts. Additionally, SB 1219 would have established a state-level certification for employment social enterprises that can be recognized by a local jurisdiction or special district for local procurement preferences. After having passed both legislative houses, SB1219 was vetoed by Governor Brown citing administrative challenges with the information systems platform. SB 1219 received support from a variety of leading organizations dedicated to economic justice, including the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, California Local Conservations Corps, California Black Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and a long list of employment-focused social enterprises.